Sheehan v. Shrub
Saturday August 20th 2005, 1:20 pm



image: John Sherffius for St Louis Post-Dispatch

…but in the War on Terra Global Stuggle Against Violent Extremism (G-SAVE), he says ‘Bring it on.’


De Menezes: Summary execution of the wrong man
Wednesday August 17th 2005, 10:23 pm


 image: BBC

London’s Metropolitan Police had previously said that electrician Jean Charles de Menezes didn’t obey an order to stop, forcing them to open fire. They said he was wearing an unseasonably heavy coat. The cops said he ran from them and vaulted the ticket barricade..

ITV/4 News reports they have obtained security video showing de Menezes entering the Stockwell tube station at a normal walking pace, even stopping to buy a newspaper. De Menezes did not vault the ticket barricade, nor was he wearing a heavy winter coat as Scotland Yard had previously reported. Video suggests de Menezes did not quicken his step until he saw his train pulling up to the platform.

ITV also reports a statement from an unarmed surveillance officer who said he pinned de Menezes to a seat while another cop fired the first shot into his head from about 30cm away. The surveillance officer was then dragged off of de Menezes while other officers fired 10 more times, 8 bullets hitting de Menezes, 7 into his brain. 

Security video which was seemingly everywhere and instantly available for broadcast on 7/7 and 21/7/05 now is not available due to ‘broken cameras.’ 

So much for that openness.


Brogden: 90% is guilty enough
Monday August 15th 2005, 4:09 pm

In the world of dogs, NSW Lieberal Party leader John ‘Phydeaux‘ Brogden would be an elderly toy poodle; half blind and not quite sure what to bark at.

Nevertheless, Phydeaux yaps his head off enthusiastically, usually at phantasmic threats.  Since Phydeaux was never able to wee on Bob Carr’s leg, he’s now yapping and snapping at nebulous fears of a weak justice system in Australia, which he thinks frees too many crims.

I’ve never thought of the test of ‘beyond reasonable doubt‘ as particularly pusillanimous, but Phydeaux is certain that unanimous agreement of jurors on a verdict is just too lenient and biased toward exonerating guilty defendants.  Phydeaux thinks he will make it easier for prosecutors to obtain convictions if only 11 out of 12 jurors must agree on a verdict (10 out of 11 if a juror is excused from a case). He’s only half right.

Phydeaux will have a coronary when he finds out that rules in free world courtrooms usually go both ways. Prosecutors may have rights to evidenciary discovery and to subpoena witnesses… but so does a defence. If Phydeaux’s kangaroo court can convict with only 90% of the jurors’ assent, it must also be able to exonerate with that same 90%.

Phydeaux’s idea of law-n-order (which incidentally doesn’t really appear to be lacking in NSW) is built on filling the jails… and then building some more. Doesn’t matter if justice is well served or even fair. According to Phydeaux, 90% guilty is guilty enough to convict. Damn the ten percent doubt!

Phydeaux devalues all citizens when he says that the opinion of one dissenting juror doesn’t matter enough to change a verdict. Our courts weigh justice for the public good, not for party political goals… no matter how tall and scary the straw-man is that Phydeaux erects for the Lieberals’ purposes.

For the public being served by the courts to be convinced of a defendant’s guilt, jury unanimity is required. If there is even one dissenter on a jury, there’s good cause to suspect that there is reasonable doubt in the verdict.

Majority verdicts are not good for the community- they are only good for lazy prosecutors or those who can’t prove their cases without a little unfair advantage.

If Phydeaux can’t live with Australian standards of justice, he ought to go hang out at Gitmo with David Hicks.


Pets or meat… or..?
Saturday August 13th 2005, 4:08 pm


In his film Roger & Me, Michael Moore covered the plight of Rhonda Britten, a poverty-stricken resident of Flint, Michigan. This poor dentally challenged woman easily looked 15 years more than her chronological age. Britten raised rabbits in her back yard to earn money, post the closure of General Motors’ plants in Flint- and the export of the GM jobs to Matamoros, Mexico.

Britten’s now legendary line, when Mike asked to buy a rabbit, was "…pets or meat?" Mike asked for meat, so Britten bludgeoned, gutted and skinned a rabbit on the spot. Talk about fresh!

However, there’s apparently a third option aside from "pets or meat."

Brendan Francis McMahon, 36, of Edward Street, North Sydney, appeared on 12 August before Central Local Court Magistrate Allan Moore and was charged with bestiality, having allegedly had sexual contact with a rabbit on 1 August. McMahon is also suspected to be responsible for the deaths of 17 rabbits and a guinea pig over the past three weeks. The investigation began after dead and dying rabbits with genital mutilations were turning up in an inner Sydney laneway.

Kinda gives a whole new meaning to warm & fuzzy.


Touched by His Noodly Appendage
Saturday August 13th 2005, 2:27 am

Bible whackers in the US state of Kansas are trying to re-brand creationism as ‘Intelligent Design.’  The fundie crosstians want to force public schools to teach ‘ID’ alongside evolutionary theory.

A brilliant wag has established that there is as much evidence for the world being created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster as by a god in 7 days- and he reasonably wants equal time for his theory in the classrooms.

image: Bobby Henderson

FSM Prophet and all-around guru Bobby Henderson is looking for work, too:

So it turns out that ANOTHER casino industry company is interested in hiring me maybe. I received this email:
Are you still looking for a job? I am trying to fill a programming position at [xxxx-removed-xxxx] Gaming. Please let me know if you are interested and when would be a good time to contact you.

My reply:
Is it in Vegas? By the way, I’ve applied to [xxxx-removed-xxxx] a number of times, without any response. I hope the irony is not lost on you that it took a letter about a FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER to get your attention. Trust me, I’m not the type of employee you want. You need a hopeless grunt who will be happy little peon in his cube and help you guys exploit the retarded. I’d rather be shot in the face. No offense.

No response as of yet.

Flying Spaghetti Monsterism has come to Australia via Rob Corr’s Red Rag blog entry.


This ain’t the Mudd Club… or CBGB
Saturday August 13th 2005, 1:42 am


 image: Lydia Lunch

Lydia Lunch‘s blood spattered art installation from the Fierce Festival (Birmingham, UK, 2004) looks more like a dorm room from my  university days than a museum piece. My dorm rooms usually had more stolen milk crates and concrete blocks, though they probably had similar levels of bloodstains, biotoxins and broken glass.

The 1970s are remembered a lot more fondly by people who didn’t live through them. Early in the decade, Watergate blathered on for a seeming eternity. Nixon’s inglorious 1974 exit forever took the blush off the rose of unquestioned respect for American presidents. Saigon fell in 1975, recording the first official loss of a war by the US. After about 1977, nobody mentioned the war anymore. We’d all grown up with Dan Rather’s deadly urgent battlefield news reports from Quang Tri and Da Nang, slotted in the middle of grandfatherly Walter Cronkite’s solemn notations of the daily body count on the CBS Evening News- and really didn’t need to hear any more. Politics was all about war and lies… remarkable how we’re right back there again.

By 1980 or so, the Vietnam War had been officially ‘over’ for a few years. I burned my draft card nanoseconds after it came in the mail, but otherwise didn’t bother to make a big issue of it. With the war and conscription ended, there wasn’t much to protest about, but failure to register for the draft meant no student loans. Going off to live at uni was a sure way for young men to escape the family home, so everyone registered (including me), whether or not they intended to bolt for Toronto if ever called for duty (which I certainly did).

Most people my age were somewhere between bored and annoyed with traditionally acceptable ways of being. We’d fully had it with blind American nationalism, ‘good Christians’ and the ‘nuclear family.’ The late 70s and early 80s hosted the first generation of American men in half a century who didn’t have compulsory military service to dissipate their teenage rages. Late ’70s male teen angst was a bitter fury against compliance and the commonplace, with few places to vent the rage other than screaming along with offensively loud bands in foggy, beer-soaked bars and impromptu conversions of unprofitable old movie theatres into concert venues. The big difference between the teenagers of the early ’70s and this new crop of nonconformists was that we were almost completely apolitical except for the odd stab at Reagan and his yuppie minions.

Soon after the all-too-mellow Eagles, Bob Seger, Peter Frampton (and the zenith of Zep), but predating the vomitously commercial ‘hair-metal‘ were the Ramones, Elvis, LydiaDevo, Sex Pistols, Clash, Misfits, Pretenders, The Damned, Buzzcocks, Black Flag and myriad other assaults on the unsuspecting senses of nervous jerks who naïvely thought they were going to be entertained. Instead, we were flogged, bruised and scorched by storming amps which pummeled speaker cones into confetti. Punk always seemed to sound better with cheap speakers which were first slashed with a switchblade.

Normal was a freshly painted, air-conditioned apartment in the ‘burbs on easy dosh from a cushy job. Vacuous, polished and blow-dried yuppies, adored by their greedhead bosses and Reaganista politicians, politely snorted coke together in disco toilets while admiring each others’ golden parachutes.

Rebellion was no longer tie-dyed. It was tightly wrapped in motorcycle leathers, tatty t-shirts and safety pins jammed through some convenient bit of skin. "DIE YUPPIE SCUM" was a common urban graffito. A dim, musty basement flat generated the incubation atmosphere for bouts of furious, black depression. Dark funks and far too much caffeine begot notebooks full of rabid lyrics, haphazardly splattered to suit a pawnshop quality electric guitar. The cheap, tinny twang was always fed through an amp so distorted that it didn’t matter if you could actually play or not. Punk wasn’t about product.

Peace was something that happened after you passed out in a grubby, sweaty heap on the floor of your flat in bloodied, beer soaked club clobber. Of course, one had to break in through a window because keys always got lost while slamdancing.

Hangovers were cured with 3 pots of bad coffee, a handful of Sudafed tablets and a half a case of cut-price beer. Cuts, scrapes and bruises mysteriously appeared in the light of day. If they weren’t obvious enough, you could always rip your t-shirt a bit more in appropriate places to proudly let them breathe. If you were lucky enough to find any on the cheap, leather pants and steel-toed boots would preserve your nethers for the next night out. Bad moods were a good thing. Sneering derisively at a mindless Skinner’s rat inspired society was unusually satisfying.

 image: Lydia Lunch

25 years down the track, the coals of disgust at blind conformity are still smouldering. However, the leathering up, slamdancing and booze courage is now just a bunch of hard work. My rage against the machine-people just comes out a little differently.

Even so, it’s not like I can’t think of a few people who don’t really need a good body-slam into the edge of a stage… where a badly tuned garage band with a manic, machine-gun drummer is thrashing the kit and a sickly pale singer with bad teeth is yowling up chunks of hot lung.

RIP Joey, Johnny & Dee Dee.


1 + 1 = 1.5: How Telstra cheats subscribers
Tuesday August 09th 2005, 1:49 pm



To cut the costs of providing service to areas with a low number of subscribers per wire-mile, Telstra originally installed only a single copper pair from the Central Office (CO) to the subscriber residence. Telstra avoids installing an additional copper line by using ‘pair gain‘ technologies. Pair gain works either by time division multiplexing (TDM) or frequency division multiplexing (FDM) to facilitate carrying an additional voice signal on the existing copper pair. The signals are chopped up and stuffed into the single copper pair. The mixed signals are carried to and de-multiplexed at the CO and fed on into the ‘PSTN’ or ‘Public Switched Telephone Network.’

Standard copper wire ‘twisted pair’ telephone lines are known as ‘Plain Old Telephone Service’ or ‘POTS’ lines. POTS is capable of a bandwidth (or frequency response) of around 300Hz to 7000Hz (7kHz), which is about twice what is needed for basic intelligibility of voice signals- in fact, 300Hz-3kHz will do for standard quality voice transmission. The full frequency response (or bandwidth) of a single POTS line is good enough to carry a ~52kbit/sec signal from a modem or a fax machine. This is all well and good until a subscriber wants to add a separate line for a computer modem or a fax machine.

To avoid installing a second copper wire pair, which may require new aerial or buried cabling, Telstra installs a multiplexer (MUX) at the subscriber end which provides two voice-quality connections. The MUX then connects through a single copper pair to a de-multiplexing device at the CO. However, the bandwidth available at those two ports is only good for about 300Hz-3kHz. That level of bandwidth will only support a maximum data speed of around 19.2kbit/sec- or worse if there are any ‘repeaters’ or analog to digital (AD) converters in the path. Speeds can be as slow as 9.2-14.4kbit/sec if traffic has to be run through an AD (or DA) converter. Regardless, subscribers on pair gain are still billed for two full capacity telephone lines!

Rural and regional subscribers on pair gain systems are thus unable to use the full capacity of 56kbit/sec modems- bush subscribers will have a hard time getting 19.2kbit/sec. Copper based broadband technologies like ADSL (which require two copper pairs, 4 wires in sum) are impossible. Furthermore, you don’t have to be out ‘past the black stump’ to be affected. Subscribers in metropolitan Sydney suburbs like South Sydney and Glenhaven often cannot get ADSL or have troubles with even POTS lines for typical voice service.

Fairly simply, Telstra have been getting away with not improving their infrastructure for quite some years. Australia desperately needs a fibre-optic based system to provide broadband internet services to all subscribers, but Telstra’s profits have been going elsewhere.

Rookie National Party senator Barnaby Joyce looks like he just might take a stand in the new Lieberal operated Senate to hold up HoWARd on the full privatisation of Telstra.

You might consider sending Senator Joyce a thank you note if he’s able to stop the already inadequate Telstra services from getting any worse.


Razor wire removal to make detention centres more home-y
Sunday August 07th 2005, 8:50 pm





Amounda says the razor wire is to be removed from some detention centres.

However, the policy of mandatory detention of asylum seekers will continue.

Same shit, different day.



Trujillo in the middle as worlds collide
Sunday August 07th 2005, 11:08 am

There’s more than just weird traffic and endearing accents when you get off the plane in Sydney from the USA. Australia has a telecoms environment more like those in Europe than in the USA. Nationally owned telecom carriers are completely unknown to Americans. Sol Trujillo is apparently among those Americans who don’t quite understand Telstra’s legal positioning as an essential service, so far operated by the Australian Government.

Since Alexander Graham Bell first cooked up telephony by wire, "The Telephone Company" as known to Americans has always been privately owned, though ultimately regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T) Company became the parent company for a number of state or regional level telephone service providers i.e. New York Bell Telephone Co., Ohio Bell, etc. In rural areas with low numbers of customers per wire-mile, other companies which could suffer the lower profits, like General Telephone and Electric (GTE), provided the local service and copper wire, but were ultimately connected to the rest of the world through AT&T. AT&T held a legal monopoly on telecoms in the most populous areas of the USA.

The net effect was a top-heavy, bureaucratic and expensive telephone system with a reputation for indifference to customer complaints. Comic Lily Tomlin made a career out of lampooning "The Phone Company" in her character on Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In show as a snide, spiteful telephone operator. More than a few people saw the connection between the 1984 AT&T logo and George Lucas’ Death Star from his 1977 Star Wars film.





images: Lucasfilm, American Telephone & Telegraph Co.

When I was a kid, the telephone was hardwired into a connector box on the wall. Telephones were marked "Made by Western Electric," which was AT&T’s own telephony equipment manufacturing company. They were also marked "Property Of Bell System." They stayed with the house if you moved. No one could own their own telephone. If you wanted the phone in another room, the "Telephone Man" came out to move the wiring and the phone (at a price!).

In 1984, the US Department of Justice decided to break up the functional AT&T monopoly into eight ‘Baby Bell’ telcos. Consumers suddenly found they could select their own long-distance carrier but many lamented the simplicity of calling one place to organise all telephone services including repair. By 1984, the population of the US had grown to the point that even in formerly fully rural areas, there were enough customers per wire-mile that many smaller companies could be profitable.

The Baby Bells also found themselves for the first time in direct competition with other companies, notably MCI (later known as MCI Worldcom, the subject of a $US180 billion collapse due to fraud after the ‘2001 dot com crash’) and Sprint.  When wireless technologies became popular and profitable in the USA, quite a myriad of small companies sprang up, some with bases in the old Baby Bells, which now provide local as well as long-distance services.

Australia’s telecom system initially was a mimic of that in the UK, where the Australian Post Office by way of the Postmaster General, had control of telephony services.  You still see old underground telephone service lids marked "PMG." Telephony was considered  such an essential service that it had to be under the control of the Australian government.

Australia has almost the same geographic area as the ‘lower 48’ or continental United States, but only has about 20 million people; the USA surpassed 20 million around 1845. It would be almost impossible for an Australian telco to make a profit with so few people per wire-mile, despite the profitability of the capital city markets.

Trujillo quickly worked out that part of the equation, but made the mistake of actually saying in public that Telstra would never be able to financially meet its Universal Service Obligation, a unique feature of the Australian telecoms market designed to assure telephone services to the sparsely populated middle of Australia.  Sol’s essentially been asked to turn Telstra into a profitable telecoms player, ready for sale into a free, global telecoms market whilst carrying the USO on its back. Even if sold to a private owner, Telstra will have to remain subsidised (and heavily regulated) by the government to provide services to rural Australia, services which are already rather obviously inadequate, even in city areas.

Sol will be figuring right about now that he’s up to his shoulders in shit.

Are we taking bets on how long it will take before Trujillo calls Telstra a lost cause, packs up & heads back stateside

I don’t think I’ll offer any specific prognostications on Trujillo’s future, but I will hazard a guess that IF Telstra is sold, it will bring very bottom dollar. The Australian government will not only lose the recurring income it currently earns from Telstra but will find it to be a financial quagmire once the proceeds from the sale are spent down. If bush telephone services are already bad, they’re certainly not going to get any better by fully privatising Telstra.


From Jabiluka to Hiroshima
Friday August 05th 2005, 2:09 pm



Isn’t it a bit ironic that almost 60 years to the day after the advent of nuclear war on this planet, the Australian Government would take control of all the uranium deposits in the NT?

Will Ian Macfarlane offer us any certainty that the uranium sold to China won’t end up in Pakistani missiles? Blowback sucks.

Nuclear wars and dirty bombs don’t happen if no uranium is mined. Of course there’s lots of fissile material around… but it has to stop somewhere… why not here? Why not now?

Simple… because uranium yellowcake is going for $28 per US pound, that’s why. And as Macfarlane said… the NT is open for business.